News that a development of three wind turbines at Rossie Moor will be considered by public inquiry has been broadly welcomed by an opponent of the scheme.
The scheme was referred to a Scottish Government reporter for appeal by developers Novera Energy after Angus Council’s development standards committee voted not to deal with the proposal separate from applications for developments at Monikie, Carmyllie and Montreathmont.
Novera is appealing on the grounds non-determination.
In his report to Tuesday’s development standards committee meeting, infrastructure services director Eric Lowson asked councillors to confirm that the project would have been refused had it been considered separately and to agree to appoint planning consultants and legal representatives to represent the authority at the inquiry.
While councillors had been asked to consider the three smaller projects separately as problems with the Montreathmont scheme might be considered as representing “unreasonable delays” in decision-making, they voted to consider the four projects together and retain their designation as a major project although the schemes were at different stages of the planning process.
He said: “The development standards committee’s decision that applications that were at a more advanced stage in the planning process should not be considered separately effectively confirmed the view that the determination of any single application outwith the context of the other applications would be premature.
“As such the committee is asked to confirm that it would have refused the erection of three turbines at Mountboy, Rossie Moor, on this basis.
“The appellant proposed that the appeal be considered be means of the written submissions procedure, however given the technical nature of the evidence and the high level of public interest in the appeal proposal, the directorate of planning and environmental appeals have decided that a public local inquiry will be held to consider the appeal.”
Mr Lowson added that no date for the inquiry has been set or confirmation received concerning its likely duration.
Jo Woolley, who lives near the proposed development site and has opposed the scheme from the outset, this week said she is surprised the matter is going to a public inquiry but is “gratified the Scottish Government is takes it so seriously.”
She said: “I was quite comfortable that a reporter, as a professional fully appraised of the information, could evaluate it, contextualise it and confidently determine it.
“I can’t help feeling that this is money that could be spent on other things but hopefully it will contribute to a conclusion that will be for the greater good.
“I think it will increase the interest that something as democratic as an inquiry will be happening locally and because it’s local people can easily hear first hand what the experts are saying. It will broaden and increase public interest and certainly make it more accessible.”
Tony Buxton, director of Novera Energy said: “We do believe there is a strong case for a wind farm at Mountboy, we believe our proposals comply with relevant planning guidelines and we are confident this will be demonstrated during the public inquiry process. We, along with the council, had expressed a preference for an enquiry based on written submissions but we are satisfied with the Reporter’s decision on procedures.”
By Mark Dowie
1 February 2008